Envoy: Sri Lanka Wants to Enhance Ties with UAE
Sri Lanka wants to strengthen its ties with Arab states, especially with the UAE, according to an envoy sent by Colombo to Abu Dhabi.
Ambassador Janaka Nakkawita told the Gulf News that Colombo had been negotiating a number of important agreements with the UAE, including a pact to avoid double taxation, protect investments and facilitate extradition.
Nakkawita added that both countries had centuries-old relations that began when Arab traders landed in Sri Lanka.
"We both are members of the Asian community, Indian Ocean Organization and the Non-Allied Movement (NAM), and are playing an important role in promoting peace and economic stability in the world," he told the paper.
Based on historic links and relations with the Muslim and Arab world, Sri Lanka had broken off diplomatic relations with Israel in 1970 because of the Palestinian crisis. Relations were revived a few years ago when Israel agreed to negotiate to find a peaceful solution to the problem, said the paper.
The ambassador has also denied reports saying that Colombo recently invited Israeli military experts to help Sri Lanka after last month's guerrilla attack on Bandaranaike International Airport.
Sri Lanka has a vibrant Muslim community constituting seven percent of the population.
"In the present government, there are four Muslim ministers, including a lady," said the ambassador.
On UAE-Sri Lankan economic relations, Nakkawita said trade between the two countries had grown to $300 million.
Sri Lanka's major export to the UAE is tea, followed by textile, rubber, fruits and vegetables. It imports oil, machinery, chemicals and fertilizers from the UAE – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)